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Mix of motherhood, writing, photography and homemaking

Fall Cleaning is the New Spring Cleaning

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in home comfort zone | 13 comments

 

Spring is no longer the lone season for keeping the house in spic and span condition. Fall cleaning is becoming quite common in the northern hemisphere as those who were not able to finish their cleaning and home maintenance tasks in spring complete them in fall (sometimes throughout the summer). Doing extra cleaning during fall removes traces of summer dust and preps the house for the cold winter months. It is also a good opportunity to check on home equipment and furnishings that will help keep the indoors warm and cozy throughout the winter.

cleaning autumn, fall cleaning

leaves! (beside our building)

Here are some fall cleaning tips that can help you cover everything or at least the essential tasks in getting the house ready for winter:

1.     Start from top to bottom, out to in. It will be difficult to work on the roof and outdoors during the cold winter months so even before the cold and snow sets in. Check and clean the gutters, windows, sills, walls, doors, and railings. Once the tasks for the exterior of the house is done then you can start working on cleaning the indoors. You need not buy new stuff to achieve that  luxury interior design look for your home, you just need to keep things neat.

2.     Secure outdoor furniture and equipment. Those who brought out some furnishings in their patio or yard for spring and summer may want to bring them back inside the house where they can be protected from the harsh winter weather. Make sure that garden hoses and sprinkler systems are free from water and cover air conditioning units to protect them from snow.

3.     Check essential appliances and fixtures and get them in tip top shape. Fireplaces or furnaces, chimneys, heaters and insulation should be among the priority as they provide warmth inside the house. You may follow suit with vents or exhaust fans, lighting, washing machine, refrigerator, ovens and other appliances if you still have time.

4.    Clean thoroughly. Suck out all the dust and dirt around the house by vacuuming drapes, furniture, and even appliances. Aside from removing possible allergens, it also helps create a brighter and cozier atmosphere in any room. Also wash, linens, beddings, comforters, blankets, and everything that will get you a nice and warm nook to rest in during the night.

5.     Stock-up on Supplies. One can never tell when one is going to be cooped up in the house because of bad weather. Make sure that you have ample emergency supplies and food around in case you need them.

autumn, fall cleaning

image via http://www.decoradvisor.net by Wing Wong

 

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Choosing the Right Self Storage Unit

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in home comfort zone | 8 comments

 

Spring cleaning, even summer clean-ups, could be difficult if there’s not enough space to store stuff not needed for the season. While it’s okay to throw away excesses, there are still a lot of things you can use after a year – for example: your favorite cowboy boots, your favorite leather jacket and that comfort blanket you had for years. And while your cellar may be a good option, the temperature, humidity and whatnots can cause rust, mildew and other unwanted damage on stored items. Building a shed is also a good way to store items but if you are a family that often moves, there’s one brilliant solution…self storage. And it has proved to be a good solution to many.

self storage units

indoor storage

Self storage businesses offers rented space – could be lockers, rooms, containers and other spaces where tenants can temporarily store their belongings (big and small) on a monthly basis. That could be household and business items. Storage units tend to differ in sizes, the smallest being  10×5 (10 feet wide by 5 feet). The services offered by such companies vary – short-term or long-term storage, a choice between a just storage pods or moving pods, outdoor or indoor options are some that customers can choose from.

So how do you get to choose the right storage unit for you? Read on.

1. Plan. Is it going to be a long-term or a short-term lease? If it’s a long-term one, choose a bigger storage where you can add some more stuff the following year. That way, you don’t pay double the space and you can add items to store, any time!

2. Inventory. Make a list of all the items you will store.

3. Weigh and Measure. Knowing how much space the items will take should help you determine which size of storage to rent.

4. Stack ’em up.  Try stacking them up, or piling them on top of each other and see how much space they would eat. Consider putting spaces for ventilation – and perhaps an aisle, so you can easily walk up and find things when you suddenly  need them. (You’ll never know when.)

5. Scout. Visit a facility nearest you, it is usually easy to find out if  Colorado Springs has storage units or if San Francisco offers cheap storage rentals with a simple online search. Seeing the actual unit will help you in deciding the size of the unit you’d rent. Also, the staff would be sure to help you out.

Space is indeed a valuable asset. And because we are a society of hoarders (admit it!) and sentimental fools, there were always be too much stuff we will hold on to and keep. It is also quite a taxing thing to throw away or decide which things should be in the bin. So for now, while you still want to hold on to the memories, a storage unit would prove beneficial, be it spring, summer, even winter or fall.

 

outdoor storage


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Dimmers as Eco-friendly and Economical Lighting Partners

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in home comfort zone | 12 comments

 

Practical homemakers are often on the lookout for ways to save on household expenses. Some of these cost-saving measures come in obvious forms like discounts, promos, and coupons or vouchers, but there are some that require a bit of knowledge on the latest technology and an open mind to shell out a bit of cash. A good example of this is the use of energy saving tools to cut down on electricity costs in the household. Homemakers can ease their way into an eco-friendly and economical way of decreasing their energy consumption by making use of dimmers in some of their rooms.

dim light

image via http://www.besthomedesigns.org/

Traditional light switches operate on a simple “on” and “off” function only. Dimmers or dimmer switches allow users to adjust the lighting levels in the room according to their needs. This also means that household members can adjust their energy consumption in a room and save on electricity by using lower light levels. A household can save at least 5-9% on their energy consumption through the use of dimmers. It can be installed in the bedroom, living room, hallways or dining room where lights are often needed. Lighting in these areas can be set at their lowest levels when there is still natural light available. At night time, light levels can be adjusted at around mid levels or at a range that is just enough to illuminate these rooms and minimize the use of bulbs at 100% energy levels. Aside from saving on electricity, dimmers can also help extend the life of your bulbs as much as 20x compared to bulbs that utilize traditional switches. However, those who intend to have dimmers installed in their homes should check for bulb specifications. There are dimmers that require dimmable CFL bulbs for optimum use.

Homemakers can take a pro-active approach in decreasing the energy consumption in their household by utilizing energy saving partners like dimmers. This will enable them to enjoy long term savings benefits on household expenses and contribute in saving the environment by adopting eco-friendly practices.

less lights

image via http://yololighting.com/

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On Hidden Doors and Secret Passages

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in home comfort zone | 27 comments

When you hear about hidden doors and secret passages, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? You probably think about castles with bookcases or walls that fall apart to reveal an entryway into a secret passage. The secret passage, in turn, leads to several other narrow passages that lead to different floors of the castle. Apparently, most of treasures and riches of a castle’s occupants are stashed in these secret passages, away from prying eyes and malicious minds. In most cases, these secret passages can also lead to escape routes where the king or someone from royalty can safely flee when enemies besiege the castle.

hidden door

secret room – image via http://www.electronichouse.com/

These days, though, people practically beg architects and interior designers to incorporate hidden doors and secret passages into their homes’ design. They ask for these not because they plan to stash their millions there but because these secret passages can serve a practical purpose in their homes.

One of the main reasons why a homeowner would want to install hidden doors and secret passages in his house is to maximize space. Sometimes, even if a house plan was drawn perfectly with all bases covered, an empty space manages to turn up eventually. Rather than dump furniture here or let the space collect dust, a savvy interior designer can design a bookcase to cover that area. If the space is large enough, it may be converted into a storeroom, with the bookcase doubling as a hidden door. You don’t only get to have a bookcase but you also get extra space in which to store some of your unused stuff.

In your library, an entire wall of bookcases can double as sliding, hidden doors that lead to your game room, TV room, bathroom, or even a small bedroom where you can rest on days when you need to work long hours.

In the bedroom, you can ask your architect or designer to install a fireplace. Depending on your preference, the fireplace can be functional or non-functional. If you decide to make it a decorative fireplace only, meaning non-functional, you can have your architect fashion a secret door on the inner wall that opens up to your safe. That’s a brilliant way of keeping your valuables like jewelry and other important documents safe.

If you’re creative enough, you could ask your architect to create a secret passage from your bedroom to the kitchen. That’s like having your very own “access road” for nights when you want to fix yourself a midnight snack. Secret passages and corridors are also useful in connecting several rooms of your house like the library, den, or even your backyard.

All it takes is creativity, imagination, and a good architect or interior designer to create hidden doors and secret passages in your home.

bookcase door! <3

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A Prefab Is a Good Option for Home Expansion

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in home comfort zone | 2 comments

 

Most people make the grave mistake of going all out when building their homes. They do this without considering which option would save them more money – building a big house from the get-go or buying a big lot, building a modest home, and leaving room for additions later on.

At first glance, the first option seems to be the better option especially for a newly married couple. They anticipate the big family they would eventually have, so they build a house that would be big enough to accommodate a growing family. However, due to time and unforeseen occurrences, their plans could go down the drain. Loss of income could impede the construction of the house, among other things.

Nevertheless, if the couple decides to purchase a big lot and build a home that’s big enough to accommodate a small family, they can simply expand the house to make room for more family members later on. In the event that they’re content with a small family, they can use the untouched lot to construct a swimming pool, a patio, or a landscaped garden. Otherwise, prefabs (Prefabricated homes) are a dime a dozen these days. A prefab could be an entire house or a room that is constructed off-site (in a factory) and when a homeowner decides it’s time for an expansion, he can just buy one. The prefab would be transported to the location, assembled there, and affixed to the existing building.

prefab

image via http://www.modularandportablebuildings.co.uk/

The cost of hiring a construction team to handle the expansion of your home is relatively high. Moreover, the builders would need to knock down several walls in your house in order to build additional rooms. This complicated process could take weeks or months to complete. On the other hand, attaching a prefab to your home is less time-consuming. In fact, it usually just takes a day or two to attach the prefabricated addition and you’re good to go.

Prefabs are very durable and reliable so you have nothing to worry about. The fact is prefabs go through rigorous tests and quality control. Since prefabs are mostly machine-made, it’s safe to say that these are quite better than a room built from scratch.

Financially, it is a better alternative to constructing additional rooms in your house. Just think; you only pay for the prefab, the cost to have it transported to your place, and the work force. In most cases, builders offer packages for prefabs; thus, you’re bound to save more if you opt for it.

As your family grows, you can have additional rooms attached to the existing house. Opting for prefabricated additions lets you sit down, calculate the expenses, and see where you stand financially, whether you have enough saved to pay for more prefab additions or if you need to save more.

Obviously, you have two distinct options as far as your plans for home expansion go. Use your better judgment to decide which option suits you best. At any rate, it pays a lot to go for the more frugal option.

photo by bluhomes

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Achieving Safety with a Home Alarm System

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in home comfort zone | 3 comments

 

Years ago, home burglar alarms were only used in the homes of the rich and famous. However, the passage of time has proven that burglars no longer consider the income spectrum when choosing a house to break in. As long as they can hoard loots, they don’t give much flak if the owner is filthy rich or not. This is probably the reason why prices of home alarm systems have dropped. Now, these alarm systems have become common fixtures even in the homes of average folks.

Many people who invest in alarms go for the do-it-yourself systems. These can be wired or wireless, setting off an alarm when an intruder attempts to break in or when they are moving around inside of your house.

Typically, there are two types of home alarm systems – open and closed circuit. Open circuit systems work by setting off an alarm when the circuit closes. When a window or a door is opened, the circuit is immediately completed and the alarm goes off. On the other hand, closed circuit systems work the opposite way. When a window or door is opened, the circuit is broken – also setting off the alarm.

home safety

image via http://www.mybss.co.uk/

Of course, due to the advent of technology, a more sophisticated option is in available – motion sensors. Motion sensors sense any type of motion within a certain radius. Once it senses any motion, it sends a signal out to the control panel that will analyze it and see if the movement is considered suspicious. If the movement is indeed considered suspicious, it will react based on how you have it set up. It can sound off an alarm or in more advanced cases, it can inform the proper authorities through hook up (that means the alarm system is wired to the nearest police station).

Motion sensors can be adjusted, so it can detect which movements are caused by pets walking around or by activities that usually take place in your home. Simply put, you can program it in a way that it can differentiate regular movements from suspicious ones that indicate a burglary is taking place. Motion sensor alarms are very common these days, and one of the best ways to keep your home safe from a burglar. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you and your family are protected.

Normally, it’s a good idea to use motion sensors and magnetic switches with your burglar alarm setup. Magnetic switches will protect doors and windows while the motion sensors will help to protect larger rooms, such as living rooms and hallways. The combination of the two is never a bad idea and it will go a long way in protecting your home.

You also have the option to install security cameras in your home. You can mount these in strategic areas throughout the parameter of your home. These will pick up images in the area where you have mounted these and the images will be displayed on a monitor. You can also record the video to keep track of the information that the camera picks up.

Whatever type of home alarm system you choose, one thing is sure; it is always a smart investment. It would ease off your worries and give you peace of mind.

 

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